The figure of 1.2 Megawatts is more commonly associated with the output of utility scale wind turbines, not cars. Yet in the world of electric drag racing, this is exactly the level of power that Ron Adamowicz from Lithiumaniacs Racing has shoe-horned into a 2012 Camaro drag car named The Warp Factor III.
The moniker suggests there have been forebears, and indeed Warp Factor II was a record holder in 2011 having covered a quarter mile in just 10.08 seconds. Ron was just getting warmed up though; this was just his first real attempt at electric drag racing. Having seen the kind of times that his colleagues on the East Coast were putting out with their electric hot rods and following the birth of his twin sons in 2008, Ron decided to swap the spanner for the soldering iron and create something that his boys would be proud off when they grew up. Warp Factor II was built from scratch, with 80% of the work done by Ron himself. He remembers, “I spent a lot of late nights reading books on electrical engineering and taught myself everything I needed to know about building an electric race car. From knowing nothing I can now take motors apart and build battery packs, however it was a completely new skill for me at the time.”
Fast forward to 2012, and the Lithiumaniac garage now houses the world’s first Megawatt electric dragster. Using Warp II as a base, the whole chasis has been upgraded with a new rear end and control arms, new shocks and a custom roll cage. To fit the new fibreglass Camaro 2012 body the wheelbase has also been stretched, but the real change has come with the drive train. A modified pair of Netgain’s latest DC Warp 11 motors run in tandem, using Helwig racing carbon brushes to prevent arcing from the massive levels of current needed. The two motors run through a pair of Gear Vendors overdrive units to keep them in the 3500rpm sweet spot and boost top end speed, and from there it’s direct drive to the wheels through a 3.25:1 reduction gear.
Producing and controlling the sort of power that can light a town was never going to be easy, so Ron has chosen one of the most heavy duty motor controllers on the market. The evnetics Soliton Shiva can dish out over 3000 amps all the way up to 425 volts without becoming a silicon puddle in the engine bay, and is one of the most critical components in this set up. The battery pack comes courtesy of team sponsor Haiyin Technologies who make LiPo cells for a variety of applications from EVs to RC models, and who are also supporting Team Tork from India in the Isle of Man SES TT Zero Challenge this year. The pack itself is made up of 100 4.2V 6Ah pouch type LiPo cells conected in series through 1/4inch silver-plated bus bars, giving up to 4000A burst rating and 425V peak – more than enough to produce the 1.2MW the team is after.
With such a hike in power and torque over the previous incarnation, this car will clearly be another record breaker; in fact, Ron sees it running in the 7s when it is used in anger later this year. Of course with any car pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with electric propulsion there is plenty of testing to be completed, but we’ll keep you posted on this exceptional project as it develops.